Friday Smiles

It’s FRIDAY! Our favourite day, isn’t it? We are usually full of great plans for the weekend, checking out the weather forecast, making arrangements to meet up with friends or family, looking at what’s on in the cinema or the theatres or planning a day out with our kids.

All that makes us SMILE! And smile is what me must do as often as possible. At least that’s what  the following video recommends. It explains all the benefits of smiling. It might make you want to eat more chocolate, though!

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-hidden-power-of-smiling-ron-gutman

This article about Mona Lisa might make you smile, or just simply laugh out loud!

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/05/leonardo-da-vinci-mona-lisa

Julia Robert’s smile made her famous. She also starred a movie called Mona Lisa smile.

Let’s end with some music . Nat King Cole.

And something completely different. Avril Lavigne.

SMILE. It’s Friday. Have a nice weekend!

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” I have nothing to declare but my geniuos!”

An eight – minute film based on Oscar Wilde’s most famous novel.Hopefully, it will inspire you to read the novel, if you haven’t already.

A lot has been written about Oscar Wilde and his plays are still  being staged around the world. His wit is unique and reading his novels or plays is a wonderful way for students of English to enjoy the language and to get inspired to play with words. Here are some more examples of his witty mind:

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

” I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

“I can resist everything but temptation.”

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

His greatest success was in the theatre with his sparkling and shrewd comedies such as Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892 ) and An Ideal Husband (1895). The Importance of Being Earnest, however, is considered to be his masterpiece. Based on the double meaning of the name Ernest, it is an attack on people who take themselves too seriously. Here is  a video explaining the play.

Here is a link to a site with the collection of Oscar Wilde’s works:

http://www.oscarwildecollection.com/

And another link  with biography videos.

http://www.biography.com/people/oscar-wilde-9531078/videos/oscar-wilde-how-to-tell-a-story-2080074682

And…don’t forget the vital importance of being earnest, at least while studying English!

Movie Disappointment

English teachers all around the globe encourage students to watch movies in English. But today we are not going to praise the countless benefits of movie watching for improving your language skills. We would like to share our  general disappointment with last year’s mainstream movie production.

This month was the month of the Oscar awards and, as always, we asked our students which of the nominated or winning films they had seen. Have they seen any of the award winning movies? Strangely, there have been very few YESs!

I secretly  thought  that I was the only one who considered  that most of the nominated movies were not worth paying the ticket, but after a futile intent to sparkle up conversation in class by engaging students in movie talk, I was egotistically pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one who had little idea of what was going on in the movie theatres.

 In order to give this a quick fix, I looked up some info on last year’s movies and found quite a few interesting videos and articles you might want to see and read instead of watching this year’s Oscar  nominees. Or, I just might change your mind about a movie or two and you might want to see one after all.  I certainly made my pick!

1.       Let’s start with the Guardian choice of the best movies of last year. Some opinions  do coincide with the Oscar winners and nominees, but there is more!

  http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2014/mar/07/guardian-film-awards-winners-judges

2.       “Gravity” won  in the category of visual effects. Here’s an interesting video presentation on the development  visual effects.

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/a-cinematic-journey-through-visual-effects-don-levy

3.       One of the films students did mention positively  in class was “12 years of slavery”. Here’s the story of the book behind the film.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/10/12-years-slave-uncle-toms-cabin

4.       In the same line, a very good and moving story of a photography project on the topic of modern slavery. Don’t miss it!

 http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_kristine_glimpses_of_modern_day_slavery

5.       And to lighten up the mood, here is a pick of Harvey Keitel’s best moments.  I hope you agree that he’s one of the actors that makes us never give up on the 7th art!

 http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2014/mar/07/harvey-keitel-five-best-moments

 In conclusion, there is hope!

Studying Collocations

Collocations are words that go together. Students preparing for exams are especially annoyed when they are not able to easily pick up collocations. They keep asking why they can’t use a certain combination of words.

The most common answer is that it just doesn’t sound natural. You can use a wrong collocation and, in most cases, people will understand what you are trying to say. However, if you are preparing for an exam, it’s just simply counted as a mistake. The problem is that some word combinations sound natural in one language but totally out of place when translated into English. Being an advanced student means you DO want to sound natural, don’t you?

STUDY TIPS

First let’s focus on the combination types:

  1. Verb+ noun ex. He couldn’t grasp the meaning of it all.
  2. Noun+ verb ex. Darkness enveloped him again…
  3. Adjective+ noun ex. That seems like an apt quotation for my paper.
  4. Adverb+ verb ex. They hardly understood what I was talking about!
  5. Adverb+ adjective The weather was absolutely marvelous!

Once you’ve decided to study collocations in a text, decide on a paragraph and underline the collocations you find. Make a list of the collocations according to the combinations above.

Then, when you have made a thorough list, you might want to organize them according to words. For example, if we take the word DARKNESS from the MACMILLIAN COLLOCATIONS DICTIONARY we will find the following entry:

Adj+N   total, absolute, complete, impenetrable, pitch, total, utter He rubbed his eyes, and soon became aware that he was alone in the church, and in utter darkness.

V+N light up darkness dispel, illuminate, light up, penetrate, pierce The only light that penetrates the darkness emits blurrily from the neon sign in the window.

N+v  approach, close in, descend, engulf sth, envelop sb/sth, fall, shroud sb/sth in, surround sb/sth  Darkness enveloped him again, but this time there seemed to be lights up ahead.

Don’t forget to include examples. The best is to copy the sentences you have found in the text.

If you are watching a video or film, use the subtitles  to copy the collocations and add them to your list. You can  either note down the example from the video or find one in a collocations dictionary.

1. Here is a video giving more tips on how to study collocations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh8r9SDmHn4

2. James from Engvid teaches you how to use the adverbs: only, just, barely and merely.

http://www.engvid.com/vocabulary-only-just-barely-merely/

3. Here you can check out your knowledge of ten adjective noun collocations:

http://quizlet.com/36355657/advanced-expert-cae-adjective-noun-collocations-flash-cards/

4. And after all this work ,you deserve a break. Check out this fun video on American and British slang. It’s hilarious!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYmrg3owTRE